June 24, 2017
Health & Fitness
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Pets Fight Cancer, Too

Dr. Alexis Denysyk
Dr. Alexis Denysyk's picture
View Bio
June 14, 2017

What Is Cancer?

Cancer is defined as “a group of diseases in which abnormal cells in the body grow and divide uncontrollably.” There are two broad groups of cancer: benign and malignant.

Benign tumors increase in size over a period of time but do not spread or grow in other parts of the body. Surgical removal of the tumor is typically curative.

Malignant tumors grow in size, invade into local areas of the body and can spread to other areas, such as the lungs or liver. Approximately 50 percent of dogs and 30 percent of cats will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime.

What Causes Cancer?

In the vast majority of cases, a direct link for the cause of cancer is never found. In a few cases, a link has been found, such as hormone release in unspayed dogs with development of breast cancer and exposure of a certain herbicide in cancer of the lymph nodes.

Signs Of Cancer In Dogs And Cats

With more than 100 different forms of cancer, there are many warning signs. Almost any cell type in the body can develop cancer.

Cancer development is more common in middle age and older pets. Some of the most commonly reported signs of cancer include a new skin lump, decreased appetite, weight loss, decreased energy, or behavior changes such as hiding or appearing agitated.

Most Common Cancers Seen In Our Pets

Fortunately, the majority of cancers are benign. Skin tumors are the most common malignant tumors seen in veterinary medicine. Other common cancer types include lymphoma, cancer of the blood vessels, oral tumors and bone cancer.

What To Do If You Suspect Your Pet Has Cancer

Call your veterinarian to schedule an appointment. Generally, the prognosis is much better when cancer is found early. Based on exam results, additional testing (sampling of the area, blood work, X-rays, ultrasound and surgery) may be discussed. In some cases, a referral to a veterinary specialist, such as an oncologist or specialty surgeon, will be recommended.

If you suspect your pet has cancer, call 410-360-PAWS to schedule an appointment with Dr. Denysyk at Calvert Veterinary Center. Denysyk has completed a residency in internal medicine and oncology and has recently taken the exam to become board-certified in oncology. She is also a great resource for information on many other types of pet illnesses.


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